the alienist // review

Title: The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
No. of pages: Paperback; 498
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Thriller, Historical, Crime, Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Random House Trade
Publication Date: November 21, 2017 (First published: December 15, 1994)
Date Read: March 3, 2018


The year is 1896. The city is New York. Newspaper reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned by his friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler—a psychologist, or “alienist”—to view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy abandoned on the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge. From there the two embark on a revolutionary effort in criminology: creating a psychological profile of the perpetrator based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who will kill again before their hunt is over. (Goodreads)


The main reason why I picked this book up was because of the series ‘The Alienist’ on TV. Not even gonna lie. I watched the first episode and just KNEW that I needed to read the book. And I was right.

Even though I’ve only seen the first episode, this book clearly exceeded all expectations that I had for it. Going into it, I knew that the book was a mystery/thriller and that it dealt with the creation of psychological profiles. It’s definitely not hard for someone who watches shows like CSI, Mindhunter, or Criminal Minds to fall in love immediately with it.

Lazlo Kreizler, John Moore, and Sara Howard are characters the main driving force characters. Each of them holds their own, but I tended to feel a bit at times as though I were reading a Holmes novel with Kreizler being the stuffy, intelligent detective and Moore being the loyal follower to the doctor’s schemes. The secondary characters were just as well-written as Carr has this gift of developing secondary characters that can steal the show. I instantly fell in love with both Mary and Joseph; the doting housemaid/love interest for Kreizler and the boy who grew up too fast and wanted John’s approval.

One other thing that I loved was the science. I’m currently in the middle of my second CSI binge and it was so great to read something that in a way was related to it. Lucius and Marcus Isaacson were a great addition to this story. They brought in ‘modern’ techniques such as fingerprinting, that historically at that time were not seen as scientifically sound in order to make sure that it was the same killer. The way that the group was able to psychologically profile the killer and make the connections all without the technology that we do today was super well written and kept me engaged the entire time.

One thought on “the alienist // review

  1. I’ve been hesitant about reading this book and even watching the show. I wasn’t sure what it was about or how I would like it. I might have to check out the book AND the show! If I can ever find the time, that is. Great review!


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